Columbus Cup steps up a notch Beneteau, Omega enhance regatta


October 04, 1992|By PETER BAKER

The Cadillac Columbus Cup will be sailed on Baltimore Harbor off Fort McHenry this week with a new cast of contestants and a slew of new sponsors, indicating this match-racing regatta is being noticed in international sailing circles.

In its first three years, the Columbus Cup was sailed in J/44s on loan from private owners, and each boat had its idiosyncrasies. Some were fast, others were faster and still others were dreadfully slow -- no matter which skipper sailed them.

This year the regatta will be sailed in Beneteau First 310s supplied by their French builder. This is significant in at least two ways -- one, the boats are likely to be much more evenly matched than the J/44s, which had been outfitted to their owners' tastes, and two, Beneteau backs top-flight regattas that it believes are good showcases for its products.

Having Beneteau bring the Columbus Cup on board is a major achievement for organizers.

Equally impressive is the addition of Omega Watch, a majosponsor of world match-racing events.

Yachting Magazine had been added, along with Boat/U.S.Mount Gay Rum and IOU Sportswear.

Add those to holdovers Cadillac, HarborView Marina and Yacht Club, Crown Central Petroleum Corp., Alex. Brown and Sons and the Blakeslee Group, and backing for the regatta is upper crust.

This year's field is top-flight as well and for the first time includes a female skipper, Dawn Riley of New York.

Riley recently capped off a stint with America's Cup defendeAmerica3 by winning the Santa Maria Cup women's match-racing championship here.

Another newcomer is Kevin Mahaney of Maine, who won thsilver medal in soling at the Summer Olympics. Mahaney is ranked 10th in the world match-racing standings issued Aug. 24, and he finished second to Russell Coutts of New Zealand in the Mazda World Championships.

A familiar name in Columbus Cup circles is Gary Jobson of Annapolis, who will return to race in the series this year.

France will be represented by Bertrand Pace, an America's Cup sailor ranked 21st in the world standings.

Chris Law of England returns after a strong performance here last year.

More evenly matched boats may go a long way toward making Law's regatta more successful. Law is No. 16 in the world.

Robert Fry of New Zealand, who has worked in the Nippon Challenge for the America's Cup since 1987, is a dark horse along with Brad Butterworth of New Zealand.

American John Kolius, who was the trial horse skipper for the Italian team that challenged America3 for the America's Cup in San Diego this spring, may be the sailor to keep a close eye on in this regatta.

It is fair to assume that Kolius pushed Il Moro skipper Paul Cayard hard in training for the America's Cup and will push equally hard here.

Just for chuckles, let's call it Mahaney, Law, Kolius and Jobson in the final four.

Columbus Cup schedule

(All events headquartered at HarborView Marina and Yacht Club)


Morning: practice

1 p.m.: Start of match racing round-robin series.

5:30 p.m.: Meet the skippers forum.

Tuesday through Friday

11 a.m.: Racing begins each day inside the Key Bridge off Fort McHenry.

5:30 p.m.: Meet the skippers forum.


4 11 a.m.: Start of consolation finals and finals.

Spectator boats: Excursions to watch the racing are available without charge, but reservations are required. Call (410) 385-2930.

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